Man Gave Names to All the Animals

Bob Dylan

About Man Gave Names to All the Animals

"Man Gave Names to All the Animals" is a song written by Bob Dylan that appeared on Dylan's 1979 album Slow Train Coming and was also released as a single in some European countries. It was also released as a promo single in US. The single became a chart hit in France and Belgium. However, the song also has detractors who consider it the worst song Dylan ever wrote. A 2013 reader's poll conducted by Rolling Stone ranked "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" the 4th worst Bob Dylan song, behind the hit single from Slow Train Coming, "Gotta Serve Somebody" in second place. "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" has been covered by multiple artists, including Townes Van Zandt, who covered the song on his 1993 album Roadsongs. The lyrics were turned into a children's book published by Harcourt in 1999, with illustrations by Scott Menchin. The Singing Kettle covered this song in the second episode of their third BBC TV series. The Wiggles covered it on their "Furry Tales" CD in 2013. 


Year:
1979
4:23
1,955 
#14

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Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago.

He saw an animal that liked to growl,
Big furry paws and he liked to howl,
Great big furry back and furry hair.
"Ah, think I'll call it a bear."

Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago.

He saw an animal up on a hill
Chewing up so much grass until she was filled.
He saw milk comin' out but he didn't know how.
"Ah, think I'll call it a cow."

Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago.

He saw an animal that liked to snort,
Horns on his head and they weren't too short.
It looked like there wasn't nothin' that he couldn't pull.
"Ah, think I'll call it a bull."

Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago.

He saw an animal leavin' a muddy trail,
Real dirty face and a curly tail.
He wasn't too small and he wasn't too big.
"Ah, think I'll call it a pig."

Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago.

Next animal that he did meet
Had wool on his back and hooves on his feet,
Eating grass on a mountainside so steep.
"Ah, think I'll call it a sheep."

Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, in the beginning.
Man gave names to all the animals
In the beginning, long time ago.

He saw an animal as smooth as glass
Slithering his way through the grass.
Saw him disappear by a tree near a lake . . .

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan ( /ˈdɪlən/; born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, poet and artist. He has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan's early songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'", became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his initial base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan's six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone" has been described as radically altering the parameters of popular music in … more »

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Written by: BOB DYLAN

Lyrics © BOB DYLAN MUSIC CO

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind


10 facts about this song

Song Origin
"Man Gave Names to All the Animals" is a track from Bob Dylan's 1979 album "Slow Train Coming". It was a departure from his previous work in that the whole album was an expression of Dylan's newfound Christian faith.
Album Theme
"Slow Train Coming" is an album where Dylan openly expressed his Christian faith. His lyrics drew heavily on the Bible. The song "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" is a direct reflection of the book of Genesis where Adam first names the animals.
Reggae Flavor
This song is primarily a blues song; however, it incorporates a reggae feel. This mix is in tribute to Dylan’s prior explorations in various music genres.
Children's Book
In 1999, illustrator Jim Arnosky turned "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" into a children’s book. The book featured Dylan’s lyrics accompanied by Arnosky’s drawings of animals.
Cover Versions
The song has been covered by numerous artists. It has been interpreted as a children's song, a gospel song, and a reggae song by artists such as The Wiggles, Jason Mraz, and Townes Van Zandt, respectively.
Live Performance
Despite extensive touring since the song's release in 1979, Dylan has performed "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" live fewer than twenty times.
Song Ending
The song never names the snake. In the book of Genesis, it's the snake who tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden. The omission has been widely perceived as a manifestation of Dylan's faith and a commentary on the nature of temptation and evil.
Album Success
Despite the drastic shift in Dylan's musical focus, "Slow Train Coming" was a commercial success, and "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" contributed to this achievement. This album also won Dylan a Grammy award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Lyric Interpretation
While the lyrics seem simple and somewhat repetitive, many Dylan fans interpret the recurrent imagery of the animals and the ultimate omission of the snake as reflecting the singer's views on the natural world, temptation, innocence, and guilt.
Popularity among Kids
Due to its catchy rhythm and simple, repetitive lyrics, the song is very popular among children. This fact helped for "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" to be adapted into a children’s book and covered by children’s group, The Wiggles.

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